Kathy RussellExecutive directorOak Park-River Forest Food Pantry

Kathy Russell, executive director Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry reports that they had two goals for the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Hunger Walk back in June: to recruit 31 walkers, and raise a total of $5,500. Instead, “Team Pantry” ended up with 74 walkers from Oak Park and River Forest and raised a record-setting $16,635 in donations, plus a bonus of $1,070 from Greater Chicago Food Depository. Their biggest fundraiser was the indomitable and irrepressible Bob Haisman, who completed the walk with two knee replacements.

Meanwhile, Lisa Files, who has coordinated the annual Girl Scout Food Drive in conjunction with the Food Pantry for the last eight years — and is no slouch herself — has submitted Russell’s name as our first Villager of the Year nominee (a title we bestow at the end of each year).

“That food pantry has gone from being a small, shoestring operation to an incredibly well-oiled machine,” she writes, and even submits evidence.

“I mean, just look at the numbers:

2005: 155 families served per month

2010: 1,200 families served per month.”

Volunteers are working 340 shifts a month, she notes.

“I asked Kathy if she had a degree in management or something and she said no, she has a degree in law. So she could be making a lot more money somewhere else. Instead she’s serving the community and she deserves to be honored for the remarkable work she has done there at the Food Pantry.”

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